Want to pitch a new plan, bid on a project or get a raise this year? Start with the end in mind. Decide what you want and ask for it up front. Don’t expend valuable facetime with decision-makers ramping up to your ask or seeding the conversation. Ask directly for what you want and then explain the logic and rationale. Too often, we lose the attention and interest of decision makers by offering up a lengthy preamble about the status quo, getting agreement on problem statements, and validating our expertise or value. Instead, identify the decision you want them to make, explain your logic, answer their questions and follow through. For more detail on how this very direct approach can work, check out the three steps below.

Identify Your Ask

Let’s say you want to pitch a new technology solution for your team that can improve productivity. As we humans do, you start thinking through the concerns your manager might have. Purchase price, lost productivity in the short term as team members learn the new tool, potential data gaps as you transfer from the old technology to the new, lack of a guarantee, risk of failure, and so much more rattles through your brain. Instead of focusing on all those details, identify your ask and practice your delivery. It can be as basic as, “Carol, I scheduled this meeting today to talk with you about approving a new technology solution for my team that will streamline our work and increase our productivity.”

Provide a Path

Once you’ve clearly articulated the decision you want them to make, share your reasoned rationale. Now that they know what you want them to do, they can follow your logic. They can listen to the carefully selected data you’re sharing with them and critically assess your request. You haven’t wasted their time or lost their attention by providing a list of details with no framework.

Listen and Field Questions

You’ll likely get a handful of questions and possibly a few challenges to your request. That’s all good – it means they heard you, they are engaged, and they need more information. Answer their queries with the relevant data, samples, and testing to assure them that your request has been well thought out and is solid. Be sure to keep your request at the center of the discussion throughout the process. After the initial discussion, follow up professionally on your request at reasonable intervals.

Asking for a promotion, suggesting change, or requesting funds can all be fraught with stress. Reduce the pressure by asking for what you want first and follow up with the reasons why. Here’s wishing you many, many granted requests in 2019 and beyond!

Talk to you next week,

Amber D. Nelson



P.S. Next week we’ll start delivering this weekly post on Tuesdays. You can still find our throwback blogs every Thursday on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.